No matter whether you’re a mac or a pc, prefer Android tablets or iPads, the one truth that unites us all is the need for a good backup strategy. There are many good backup strategies. Here I present just one. Find something that works for you, make sure that it backs up your important stuff without needing constant attention (it shouldn’t need manual intervention) and above all else perform a practice restore before it’s your only hope. Remember: backups nearly always succeed, it’s restores that fail.
Introducing Backblaze and Evernote
I’ve written about Evernote at some length. It’s a fantastic online notebook that you can use for everything from meeting minutes to photos to audio notes and scrapbook entries. All of your data is stored securely in the cloud and can be accessed from phones, tablets, desktops, and anything with a web browser. This prepares it very well for use in a backup strategy. Add an item to Evernote and it’s whisked away to the cloud. Offsite secure backup for everything important…except…for two outcomes. First there are the things you don’t store in Evernote, videos, tools, configuration files, all of the little things that don’t warrant a formal note entry. Secondly, what if Evernote encounters a problem and loses your data, or worse goes out of business. To cover those items you need a second strategy.
Enter Backblaze. For $5 a month you can back up an unlimited amount of data from all of the drives in your system. Install the client locally and Backblaze will upload all of your data to the cloud in the background. Save a new file to your drive and shortly thereafter Backblaze will copy it to your online vault. Concerned about privacy? Don’t want Backblaze to see your porn? You can choose to have all of your data encrypted before it is sent to the Backblaze servers. Even the Backblaze employees can’t see the files. When you need to view your files or download them later, you use your password to decrypt the data. It’s safe, secure, private, and automatic.
This leads to the question, “then why use Evernote if Backblaze backs up everything?” The key here is convenience of access and search. Backblaze is a great way to take a secure, encrypted backup of your data, but it doesn’t help you find your items or access them from a variety of devices. Evernote lets your index and organize your online filing cabinet, whereas Backblaze lets you store a copy of the source data in a secure location.
The final key to this strategy is to backup your Evernote repository within Backblaze. No matter how simple your strategy, you will still expend some effort in building an online notebook. Tagging, sorting, and indexing your notes, formatting them, and choosing how they are organized into notebooks takes time and care. Protect this time by exporting your complete Evernote repository to a single file periodically and uploading the export to Backblaze. This way if Evernote encounters a problem and your data becomes corrupted you can revert to your most recent Evernote backup. Further still if Evernote should actually go out of business (which seems very unlikely) you’ll have a full backup of your notebook in Backblaze. You can import those notes into a different note-taking application and keep moving forward.
As always with any disaster recovery plan, practice a restore. Pretend you have lost some critical files and actually go through your backup agent’s restore policy to get a copy of those files from your archive. Better to find out that something is wrong when you’re practicing than when your significant other is asking why all of the photos of little Tommy don’t appear to be on the hard drive anymore.
Warning: Evaluate your own backup strategy carefully. This article comes with no warranty of any kind, implied or otherwise. I am not responsible if your strategy fails and causes loss of your data, loses your save-game files or Ctrl-Alt-Dels your cat. Seriously, think about this stuff carefully and decide for yourself what will work. Practice restores and enjoy peace of mind.